Moscow | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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MOSCOW, Bailiwick Repertory. Three gay men, inexplicably trapped in an empty theater, struggle to unravel the mystery of their plight--and to pass the time, placing this musical squarely in absurdist territory. Unfortunately, the audience too is imprisoned by this existential drama: first you wonder why you're there, then whether you can leave.

In writer Nick Salamone's scheme, the shanghaied cast resorts to rehearsing a musical adaptation of Chekhov's Three Sisters. This might be a splendid premise for a reductio ad absurdum farce or a loving postmodern dust-off, but all it amounts to here is an excuse for various songs of self-discovery and some highly stereotyped role-playing. Jon--playing Olga and the frustrated adapter-director--is the gruffly affectionate den mother. Luke--who portrays Irina--is the brash, pretty hustler from down south. Matt--long-suffering Masha--is the facilitator caught in the middle, in love with one and loved by the other.

Under Bo List's direction, Salamone's characterizations echo Chekhov's archetypes well enough but don't go much further, and the daisy-chain dynamics end up burying the source--not to mention the basic Twilight Zone question of what exactly is going on. Maury R. McIntyre's songs are somewhat better, though the cast's rough-and-ready voices are sorely tested by some tricky spoken-sung stuff. As the solos pile up, however, the themes cease to develop, and the whole affair decays into a bizarrely upbeat show-tune take on No Exit.

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